YA Spring Fling interview with Megan Thomason
Today I'm pleased to present an interview with fellow author Megan Thomason. I think you'll find the peek into this author's mind and process fascinating!
What’s your favourite thing about spring?
I live in San Diego, so we have decent weather year round (defined by the ability to wear flip flops which is very important to me), but by Spring, the nights start to get warmer and lighter. In our yard, the hummingbirds are out, and flowers are blooming. It’s gorgeous! Here’s my view right now on an uncharacteristically hot, 90 degree day:
What’s the best thing about being a writer?
When I started writing, it was my very best escape mechanism. Now, it feels more like a job (deadlines and expectations), but I still love morphing an idea into an elaborate story. And any event from small (a great review or kind comment from a fan) to big (having series optioned for film) can absolutely make my day—or year!
What’s the worst thing about being a writer?
The worst thing for me has been bullying. There are plenty of writers who have had worse experiences than I have had, but my experiences have had a profound impact on me. I’ve had death threats and personal insults. I’ve been accused of horrible things including paying for reviews (the only reviews I have paid for were professional reviews from Kirkus, ForeWord Reviews, and BlueInk) and put on lists that encourage people to post one-star reviews. I’ve had another author (someone I don’t know/doesn’t write in my genre), manipulate one of my Facebook posts to make me look bad and post it on her page, encouraging friends and followers to “put me out of business.” I almost quit writing after that last one. Instead, I decided to ignore the negativity and keep doing what I love doing.
The other hard thing—but not worst thing—is balancing writing with my other responsibilities. I’m married and have five kids. Occasionally, real life interferes with creating fictional ones. Last year, I had to take a long hiatus to attend to my family. It was tough having to let deadlines pass and equally hard to disappoint readers. I’d do it again in a heartbeat to be there for my husband and kids, but that doesn’t make it any easier.
Tell us more about your books.
My daynight series is an award-winning, bestselling series that blends science fiction, dystopia, fantasy, and romance. The series has been optioned and is currently in film development (https://pathbender.media/press/). It has a modern-day, parallel world setting. I got the idea for daynight (and the world of Thera) while hiking the canyons of San Diego on a particularly hot day. I pondered how hot it would have to get before society would be forced to switch days and nights. From there, I contemplated what kind of government would “rule the night” and concocted The Second Chance Institute.
daynight tells the story about Kira Donovan, Blake Sundry, and Ethan Darcton’s interactions with The Second Chance Institute. The SCI is a benevolent non-profit on Earth and totalitarian dictator on Thera. Their motto: Because Everyone Deserves a Second Chance at Life. In reality, the SCI uses those given a “second chance” as subjects in political science experiments like Cleaving—a forced lifetime union between two people who have sex. Punishment for disobeying SCI edicts is Exile or death. Kira is lured into the SCI as a Recruit with the promise she’ll receive a full college scholarship, but finds out she is central to the SCI’s plans. Blake grew up in Exile on Thera and has been trained to infiltrate and destroy the SCI. And Ethan has been groomed since birth to rule the Second Chancers.
clean slate complex (a daynight series novella) follows the SCI’s happenings on Earth where the SCI’s pushing Project Liberate, a program to woo the poor and downtrodden into their Clean Slate Complexes—where “everything is provided” from jobs to food, shelter, clothing, and education. Unfortunately, as with all things that sound too good to be true, there’s a catch… Alexa Knight gets trapped by the SCI’s promises of free health care for her mother, but quickly finds that behind every promise is a lie.
arbitrate begins a full year after the events of daynight, and the circumstances have changed dramatically for each of the characters. Kira, one of the main characters, has had to deal with the consequences of everything that happened during daynight and over the past year, and she is broken. She makes decisions that end up impacting everyone she cares about. arbitrate is told by Kira, Ethan, and Blake in both the present and near past (filling in what happened over the past year). Whereas daynight centered primarily in Garden City, Thera,arbitrate happens across dozens of cities on both Earth and Thera. The Second Chance Institute has well-developed plans for both Earth and Thera, and those in opposition have more challenges than ever to try to defeat them.
generate completes the daynight series. After decades of plotting and testing, the SCI stands ready to execute their plan on Earth and annihilate anyone who threatens it. They’ll stop at nothing and for no one—not the Deny the SCI movement, nor the Exiler Nation, Arbiters, and Genitors—even if it means war. Kira must persuade the Genitor leaders to stop the atrocities happening at the hand of the SCI—or, if they refuse, she’ll risk everything to do it herself. Ethan embarks on his own agenda, teetering loyalties between the Arbiters, the SCI, and the Deny the SCI movement on Earth. Blake begins an assignment to watch over the Exiler Nation and finds unlikely allies in his crusade to save thousands of innocent lives.
Coffee or Tea?
Neither, actually. I’m a diet Coke junkie, and I particularly love dirty diet Cokes (just add coconut creamer).
Plotter or Pantser?
The daynight series is plotted. It is way too complicated to just sit down and start writing. For arbitrate, I had to keep a very elaborate timeline (for all three main characters), a map of both Earth and Thera, and detailed story arcs on hand at all times. I knew from the beginning exactly how I wanted it to end and loosely plotted the entire book. I’m in the middle of writing generate, and the process has been similar. The process serves as an excellent starting point and basis of inspiration for me. However, as I get better ideas, I always incorporate them, even if it means rewrites and rethinking. Most days, when I hit the end of a scene or a chapter, I’ll go for a walk to plot the scene/chapter out in more detail (yes, I’m a danger—mostly to myself—as I type notes into my iPhone while walking).
Are there any books involved in the YA Spring Fling that you’re secretly lusting after?
I read 300-500 books a year (made possible by insomnia). So, I’m interested in any book that catches my attention. I always read a sample first (not every book is for everyone, including mine). If I find the characters and plot compelling in the sample, I one-click and read away. I’ll often start a book at 9pm and finish by 11:30pm, then I’ll (unwisely) start another at 11:30pm and finish much, much too late to be a productive member of society the next day.
What was the last YA book you read?
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven, a Fault in Our Stars-like (aka bring tissues) novel. I don’t solely read YA. I’ll read everything from YA to contemporary romance to new adult to fantasy to science fiction to mystery/thriller to historical. Some of the recent standouts I’ve read are The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, The Law of Moses by Amy Harmon, Ugly Love and Confess by Colleen Hoover, The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, You by Caroline Kepnes, and Black Lies by Alessandra Torres.
Why do you write YA?
I started writing young adult because I had teenagers with voracious reading appetites. At my daughters’ request, I wrote a YA romantic comedy trilogy. After that great writing practice (not good enough to publish!), I came up with the idea for the daynight series. While the characters span young adult/new adult ages, I categorize the series as YA because, while edgy, the books have no explicit content. Since I still have a house full of teens who insist upon reading everything I write, YA works best for me. Also, I love flawed characters with depth to them who morph, change, and evolve over time. YA characters are perfect for that, as they’re trying to find themselves and figure out what they want out of life. They also readily make mistakes and have to learn and grow from those mistakes.
What are your top tips for surviving a bad review?
Don’t read them :). No seriously, don’t—or at least have a friend or family member preview the review and pull out any pieces of constructive criticism for you. Constructive criticism is awesome—like nuggets of gold. Writers need these nuggets in order to improve. But, a writer might encounter something nasty, and unless that writer wants to be depressed, anxious, self-doubting, or to endure a few days of writer’s block, it is best to stay blissfully unaware.
What are your top tips for surviving a zombie apocalypse?
There is often a raging debate at our dinner table over this—particularly if we have guests. We have an extensive collection of daggers and swords from around the world that would be employed during a zombie apocalypse. Some of my children think we need to add some automatic weaponry to the collection. I had a couple friends in high school who had friends die from gun accidents, so that’s out as far as I’m concerned. But, a good supply of food and water and a defensible house would be important. I’m not sure my new electric car will do me much good, so I have to plan to be stuck here for the duration :).
What inspires you?
People, music, art, an errant thought—I find there to be inspiration everywhere if I’m looking for it.
Where can readers find your books?
The main books of my daynight series are available as an ebook on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Megan-Thomason/e/B00A6SXUI0), and as paperbacks on Amazon, bn.com, and through the Ingram catalogue. Quite a few libraries have picked up the series, as well as some Indie bookstores. If the movies make it to theaters, I’d expect the distribution to increase :).